FFL supports recommendations of Justice Reinvestment Task Force announced Thursday by Gov. Edwards

Lousiana’s

“Never before have we had such a cross section of leaders work together to come up with effective solutions to the challenges facing our justice system. This task force has involved elected leaders, business leaders, leaders in the those in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities, as well as advocates and grassroots activists, and leaders from the faith-based communities across the spectrum,” said FFL President & CEO Flozell Daniels, Jr., who has served as the governor’s designee on the task force.

Baton Rouge, LA – Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) is encouraged by the final report released by the Justice Reinvestment Task Force by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday (March 16), and hopes the recommendations will be passed in the upcoming legislative sessions, FFL President and CEO Flozell Daniels, Jr. said.

“Never before have we had such a cross section of leaders work together to come up with effective solutions to the challenges facing our justice system. This task force has involved elected leaders, business leaders, leaders in the those in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities, as well as advocates and grassroots activists, and leaders from the faith-based communities across the spectrum,” said Daniels, who has served as the governor’s designee on the task force.

“This is a way to put justice in the justice system.”

The 14-member task force, working with project support from the Pew Research Center, tackles deep systemic issues that have made Louisiana the world’s leader in incarceration rates, and which leech $700 million from the state budget. Compounding the problem, as the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts notes, is a recidivism rate in which nearly 4 in 10 Louisiana inmates released from prison return behind bars within three years. Recommendations focus on reducing the number of people behind bars and more on drug treatment and educational training for prisoners upon release to better prepare them for life back in society. (You can read the recommendations here.)

The release of the task force’s findings was presented at the Capitol in Baton Rouge in a press conference that included Gov. Edwards, Daniels, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc (task force chair), Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson of the Louisiana Supreme Court and the rest of the task force.

“I want to thank the members of this task force, Pew Charitable Trusts, the governor’s office and especially Gov. Edwards for trusting me to represent the spirit of his intentions in doing what, to me, might be some of the most historic policy work that the state of Louisiana will have done in a generation,” Daniels said.

If the recommendations for policy change are enacted by the legislature, this could be the beginning of a new way of thinking of the turning of the tide in how we invest public resources and the energy of the people involved in the criminal justice system in ways that really do improve the lives of people long-term, said Daniels, whose depth of experience in justice-reform policy includes serving as the commissioner of the Mayor’s Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform in New Orleans that led to historic reductions in jail size.

“This will jump-start our efforts to not only reduce historic and world-leading incarceration, but to invest in evidence-based approaches that lead us to stronger and safer community while saving taxpayer dollars,” Daniels said.

The state legislature convenes on April. 10.